By DAN WHEAT
The first Chinese Sand pears have arrived in the United States, on the same dates the first U.S. pears arrived in China, according to a USDA official.
It reflects the eagerness of both countries to engage their new markets and China's desire not to be left behind, said Frank Salantri, a trade specialist for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Washington, D.C.
The first shipment of Sand pears arrived in Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 22, and the second arrived there on Feb. 28, he said. They were 13,600 and 22,120 kilograms, respectively, he said. That's approximately 750 and 1,219, 40-pound-box equivalents.
The pears cleared inspections with no problems, he said. At least 16 import permits for Sand pears were issued by APHIS, but Salantri said he could not determine which importers or retailers received the pears.
"They're probably the same people who import Chinese Ya and Fragrant pears," he said.
Most Chinese pears come to Long Beach and are bought by Asians in Los Angeles while fewer are shipped to Brooklyn, N.Y., he said.
Salantri was involved in U.S.-China phytosanitary technical bilateral talks in Napa, Calif., Sept. 25-27, where an agreement was reached to open China to U.S. pears and the U.S. to Sand pears.
"It was important to both countries to establish those markets," he said.
Salantri said he does not know what volumes of Sand pears China is planning for the U.S.
It appears volumes will start small just like Northwest volumes to China, said Jeff Correa, international marketing director at The Pear Bureau Northwest in Portland.
Sand pears likely will remain a niche item unless there are market promotions, he said.
The first U.S. pears, Green and Red d'Anjou, shipped to China arrived in Dalian Feb. 22 from Duckwall Fruit in Hood River, Ore. A second shipment arrived in Shanghai Feb. 28 from Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
Both countries face getting consumers use to unfamiliar pears, Correa said.
The d'Anjou pears need to ripen before being eaten and will look different to Chinese consumers, just as Sand pears look different to Americans, he said.
"Our pears are impulse purchases here so theirs might be moreso," he said.
The Pear Bureau is talking about new Chinese names for U.S. pears that captures some of the pears' attributes as a marketing tool, he said.